Thursday, October 7, 2010


We woke up just as Daman was getting the morning tea. I realized the huge task that lay ahead of us.

Shantanu went to check Ang. No response. Same chant.Ang had probably used all the strength to get back to Advance Base camp.

Mingma felt better. He could walk on his own.

The team of Sherpas came up. They consoled me for the loss. I was moved.

I went back to out tent to pack up. Anju was feeling low. Shantanu was trying to steer the conversation to other subjects.

Ang was carried down by the Sherpas. I took a last look at Mt Tinchinkhang.

Tears welled in my eyes and I broke down. I cursed myself for being objective at all times. I felt inhuman.

I cried out loud, not at the mountain, but at my own behavior.

"The Ghosts" were returning. (See Blog 'Point of no return' for my definition of Ghost.)

It must have been a shock to others who had only seen the impassive side of me for the two days.

I gave in only after we were out of the critical situation.

They tried to comfort me with words.

I was back in control as my reasoning returned.
It could not have been done differently. If I were fit, I would have gone up in the summit team.
Not in the rescue team... perhaps, we could even have arrested the fall together.

Or perhaps I would have been lost too.
Ifs and buts do not mean much. I had not climbed for few reasons, which I should reveal...
The reason for which I climb would be lost, if I was too dependent on the Sherpas. I was sure that at some point I would be weak and I did not want to be a burden.

Heights made me uneasy. I was not as comfortable or carefree in mountains as before. There was a confidence that I had had in my past expeditions. A feeling that nothing will go wrong with me in the mountains.

I did not have that feeling during Tinchinkhang.
The most important reason was 19 Oct, my marriage anniversary.
I did not want to betray the trust Ila had in me, when she permitted me to go on the expedition.

I withdrew when I felt that the risks indeed exceeded my expectation.

Success or failure did not seem important. Mountaineering for me is about testing the limit, to enjoy the adventure and ensure safe return.

As a mountaineer, after finding my limit, I did not budge from my decision. The limit is dictated by a person's fitness level.

The walk to base was easy. Rinzing had made arrangements to help us for a rapid withdrawal from the mountain.

The Helicopter had not shown up. It meant that Ang had to be carried upto Thansing. Easier to land the helicopter.

We walked to Thansing. There were trekking teams who looked at us strangely. Perhaps the news had spread.
The chief of the Thansing site was polite and softspoken.
He understood our feelings well.
The Heli did not arrive till late afternoon. Ang's immediate evacuation was necessary.

The lead sherpa was using different methods to secure Ang. He was huge and in one attempt he put Ang in a basket and lifted on his own.

Finally they decided that a stretcher carried by four would be the easiest. These four could be replaced. Shantanu decided to go down with the porters the same night. He would then be within the cell range and could call Yuksom and the club. Anju and I were to descend, the next morning.

An hour after the team left, I heard the copter. It was so late. So useless!
I laughed at the situation, as we saw the copter shoot ahead of Tinchinkhang, well beyond Mt. Pandim. I hoped it would land at Tshokha on its return.
I had another sleepless night. It was extremely cold. An ordeal lay ahead of us.

Would the police understand? Would they ask for proof? Insurance claim....
The news must have traveled to the family, colleagues and friends. They would know about Mangesh.
My thoughts returned to his family.